Purpose - The main purpose of this paper is to determine the content of amino acids, fatty acids and minerals in seven indigenous leafy vegetables (ILVs) in Ghana. Design/methodology/approach - Leaves from plants growing near Kumasi were milled to a fine powder, dried to constant weight in a vacuum desiccator, and analyzed for their content of the afore-mentioned nutrients. The plants were: Hibiscus sabdarija, Hibiscus cannabinus, Amaranthus cruentus, Corchorus oliforius, Solanum macrocarpon, Xanthomosa sagittifolium and Vigna unguiculatus. Findings - All seven ILVs contained a large amount of protein (15.5-22.8 percent), which compared favorably to the essential amino acid pattern of a WHO standard. They all contained nutritionally useful amounts of alpha-linolenic acid and had an omega-6/omega-3 ratio of 0.1-0.9. The seven ILVs contained quantities of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum and zinc that could contribute significantly to satisfying an individual's need for these elements. Research limitations/implications - The presence of relatively large amounts of various nutritionally essential macro- and micronutrients in these seven ILVs does not necessarily mean these nutrients are bioavailable. Future research is required to determine the amounts of anti-nutrients (e.g. protease inhibitors, chelators) in these vegetables, and the extent to which their protein, lipid and mineral constituents are digested and/or absorbed. Originality/value - Since malnutrition (e.g. iron-deficiency anemia, rickets, zinc deficiency, protein-calorie malnutrition) is common in sub-Saharan Africa, the information which is provided should increase awareness among agricultural and public health officials of the nutritional value of seven underappreciated and underutilized ILVs that are indigenous to Ghana and many other parts of Africa.
R.H. Glew, University New Mexico, School of Medicine, Departtment of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Albuquerque, NM 87131 USA